Death Wears a Top Hat by Steph Minns
It was the cover that initially hooked me and I must admit to expecting a gothic type tale of murder and the supernatural set in more distant times, perhaps some sort of time-slip scenario having read the blurb. However, the initial chapters firmly set the story in the modern day so I was slightly confused at first. Once I got over this misconception and had passed the initial chapters which were very much scene-setting and introducing the characters, the story developed a natural flow which easily carried me along with it. The intermingling of the demonic top-hatted creature with modern life was drawn naturally and not forced. Crime and the supernatural mix easily and believably. The grisly murders committed in these pages are by a character possessed by a demonic entity, ‘the man in the top hat’. As the bodies pile up, DS Sue McKentee meets up with transgender psychic Alison Graves, whose initial information concerning one of the murders is initially dismissed with usual ‘nutcase’ tag. However, as the case evolves and McKentee herself encounters the top-hatted creature, she and Alison work together unofficially to capture the killer and bring him to justice. The story, however, is not just one of murder, it is also how two people reassess and rebuild their own lives. McKentee, divorced and refusing to let anyone close to her, gradually softens and becomes more open whilst Graves is almost at the end of the long journey in the transgender process to become the woman she wants to be. It is a story of acceptance of self and of others. I think these two would actually make a very good pairing for further supernatural jaunts together.